Vincenzo Spisanelli

The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine

The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine by Vincenzo Spisanelli

Artwork Detail

The Italian painter Vincenzo Spisano, known as Lo Spisanelli (1595 - 1662) spent most of his life working in Bologna, although he also carried out commissions in neighbouring towns. The Mystic Marriage of St Catherine is widely represented in Renaissance art, but usually the child is shown on the Virgin's rather than his grandmother Anna's knee. The concept of mystic marriage serves as a rendering in visual terms of the simple metaphor of spiritual betrothal to God. When this painting first came to Auckland, it was attributed to the Dutch artist Denis Calvaert because of similarities in their style, which Spisanello learned while studying under Calvaert in Bologna. However, recently Calvaert’s original painting was located at Stourhead in England and the differences are quite striking, as that painting is brightly painted in the contrasting hues loved by Mannerist painters of his time. Spisanelli’s work is much quieter in tone. Rather than simply copying his master’s composition, he has adapted it to make a gentler, atmospheric interpretation of the theme.

The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine
Vincenzo Spisanelli
Production date
mid 17th century
oil on canvas
479 x 355 mm
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of J Yock Esq, 1960
Accession no
Other ID
Dionys Calvaert Previously Attributed Artist
No known copyright restrictions
International Art
Display status
On display

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